Our focus on building safety
Since the Grenfell tragedy, there has been much more of a focus on building safety. At Origin, we have continuously prioritised fire safety and wanted to let you know about the work we have done to make sure that our residents feel safe in their homes.
What have Origin been working on to make sure buildings are safe for people to live?
We have invested £20m in the last four years in fire safety in existing buildings including upgrading or replacing over 1,400 fire doors and have made provision for a further £50-£60m in the next five years in order to meet changing fire safety requirements, with an overall plan in place that is due to conclude within the next nine years. In particular the comprehensive safety regime which will be required for buildings over six storeys.
We have suitable Fire Risk Assessments on all our buildings which are regularly updated by our expert team and quality assured. The recommendations arising from the assessments can be accessed through our residents’ portal. Any actions that arise from these assessments are prioritised by risk and monitored through to completion.
Where significant remedial works are shown as required, we have either completed work or put measures in place to make sure the building is safe pending programming of the works.
We have an inspection and testing regime for fire protection measures such as fire doors, fire alarms, emergency lighting and smoke vents.
We have a skilled and qualified specialist fire safety team who are up to date with fire safety requirements and changing standards and our front-line staff are expected to report back any fire safety issues they observe in our buildings.
We have issued fire safety tips for residents. https://www.originhousing.org.uk/residents/fire-safety/fire-risk-assessment-actions
Does Origin have any buildings with cladding?
The majority of blocks of apartments built across the country in the last 30 years have some form of cladding. We have carried out a desk top assessment of all high rise buildings (over six storeys or 18m) to identify the nature of the cladding and have removed ACM (Grenfell style) cladding on the one block. The other 34 buildings will be subject to detailed review on a risk basis over the next 10 years.
For medium rise blocks we also plan to carry out intrusive investigations into the exterior wall systems on a risk assessed basis and anticipate this will take 5 years.
The anticipated programmes for high and medium rise investigations are shown here. These programme may be subject to change but we will advise of any changes.
If remedial work is needed on a building – who will pay for it?
We are actively pursuing Government funding where it is available but there are strict eligibility rules which apply only to buildings over 18 m (six storeys) with certain types of cladding.
Most of our buildings are not eligible and the funds do not apply to other issues such as timber balconies, compartmentation issues and fire doors. We will also pursue developers where the original build does not meet safety standards as they applied at the time or we will claim under the National House Building Council warranty which applies for buildings completed in the previous 10 years.
If we are unable to secure external funds we will need to recharge leaseholders under the terms of their lease. If this becomes necessary we will carry out formal consultation and offer repayment terms. We understand that the prospect of a large bill is extremely worrying and we will do everything we can to avoid having to recharge.
What happens if I want to sell my property – do I need an EWS1 form?
The Royal Institute of Chartered Surveyors (RICS) have issued guidance on which buildings may need Exterior Wall System certification to be mortgageable.
Some lenders are automatically requiring one even on buildings where RICS advise they are not necessary. The Secretary of State Robert Jenrick announced on 21 July that any building under 18 metres tall would not require a so-called “EWS1” fire safety form and should be presumed safe by fire risk assessors and mortgage lenders.
If your building does need an EWS1 form please contact our Home Ownership Team so we can discuss when an exterior wall investigation is planned and your options. If your block needs an EWS1 and this is not available we will look at what else we can do to assist, such as considering permission to sub let.
You can read more about EWS1 forms and for more frequently asked questions here.